Codemasters sold to EA for $1.2 billion, not Take-Two

The purchase of UK publisher and developer Codemasters has turned into an unexpected bidding war, with EA emerging victorious.

Although it originally seemed like a done deal for Take-Two, EA has swooped in at the last minute to buy veteran British publisher and developer Codemasters.

The deal with Take-Two was worth $994 million (£750 million) but EA has offered $1.2 billion (£900 million) and Codemasters has accepted.

‘Electronic Arts and Codemasters have a shared ambition to lead the video game racing category’, said Codemasters chairman Gerhard Florin. ‘We feel this union would provide an exciting and prosperous future for Codemasters, allowing our teams to create, launch and service bigger and better games to an extremely passionate audience’.

The purchase is puzzling though because while Take-Two don’t currently have any major racing franchises or developers of their own EA do.

The long-running Need For Speed franchise has been underperforming for years though, with a recent spate of remasters eliciting little excitement and former developer Ghost Games having been downsized to a technical support studio.

Guilford-based Burnout developer Criterion was supposed to be in charge of the Need For Speed series, and may well still be, but the fact that EA will now own multiple major British studios that specialise in racing games does not bode well for them all being kept open.

Codemasters’ main internal studio is in Birmingham, but they also have offices in Cheshire, Kuala Lumpur, India, and own London-based Project CARS developer Slightly Mad Games.

It now seems inevitable there will be a period of consolidation, which is almost certain to lead to redundancies.

Codemasters’ senior executive management team are all remaining in the same role though, including CEO Frank Sagnier and CFO Rashid Varachia (the Darling brothers sold off their stake in the company years ago).

‘Our industry is growing, the racing category is growing, and together we will be positioned to lead in a new era of racing entertainment’, said EA boss Andrew Wilson. ‘This combination will allow us to grow our existing franchises and deliver more industry-defining racing experiences to a global fan base.’

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